Brazen efforts at creating malleable electoral commissions


Roman Yakel gives more worrying details of efforts by those in power to fiddle the makeup of precinct electoral commissions and / or set the scene for declaring void inconvenient results.

Concern has already been expressed by Ukrainian and foreign election monitors over the abrupt change in the rules for forming precinct electoral commissions [PEC] and some highly questionable rotations in membership.  Roman Yakel  writes in the latest issue of Dzerkalo Tyzhnya  that “in order for the Party of the Regions and executive to establish control over them [the PEC], they had to replace far more people than in the district electoral commissions [DEC]. There weren’t enough technical parties who got into the PEC from the draw. So what did those in power do? They recruited their own people from political parties which weren’t in the PEC at all. They simply ignored the law.

OPORA observers have discovered that in the people put forward for PEC by various parties in all five electoral districts of the Rivne oblast 10-15 percent were made up of the same people. It was mainly the marginal parties who had a lot of such “doubles”.

Nor, the author writes, did they confine themselves to one electoral district.  In District No. 153 a majority voted to not exclude doubles, while in 152 the issue was simply not considered. Article 37 § 3 of the Law on the Parliamentary Elections is clear that being a member of one commission is grounds for removal from another.

“Thus by using “doubles” and “triplets” in dozens of technical parties, the local administrations planned in advance the replacement of members of the commissions with obedient people.”

In No. 156 electoral district (centre in Sarny) the DEC was late in creating PEC, and was found guilty of inaction by the Rivne District Administrative Court. Other DECs were not late, however most of the PEC formed did not comply with the law regarding their first meeting.

In District No. 154 (Dubno) no more than 30% of PEC began work on time.  Most of the others were impeded by what the author calls a banal reason – the absence of most of the members.

The situation is even worse in District No. 152.

“As of writing this article, the telephones of most members named in 13 reports sent by PEC to the DEC are either invalid or don’t answer. Some of the members have not appeared because they’re already working in other commissions and even in other oblasts. One can conclude that the lists of candidates for PEC from technical parties were drawn up by those in power with the idea of replacing them with their own people.

Roman Yakel calls the process for forming PEC in No. 153 (Rivne) unique. The DEC drew up their lists of members of the PEC.  Then parties began putting forward names of proposed replacements, while somebody surreptitiously and without the necessary decision from the DEC simply changed the PEC.  This alone is a gross breach of legislation. On top of that, “in some PEC, at the instruction of district administrations, the members of the commissions were replaced by members of parties who had not even taken part in the draw.”

In the PEC in the village of Vesnyane there are people who aren’t in the lists approved by the DEC.  They told OPORA that they are members of the Party of Pensions, Union of former Chornobyl clean-up workers and Slavyanskaya Party. In breach of procedure the parties had not been allowed to take part in the draw, yet were, at the last minute, added to them.  OPORA Cooridnator for the Rivne oblast, Anatoly Bondarchuk is adamant that this is unlawful and that the head of the PEC should have reported the infringements to the DEC. By not doing so, he placed the democratic expression of the public’s wishes in jeopardy. “The fact of involvement in falsification of the makeup of the PEC in the Koretsky district by members of the district authorities is evidence of the use of administrative resource and exercising of influence on the work of the commission”, Mr Bondarchuk says.

The author writes that in PEC in the Ternopil oblast, the authorities used a rather different method. In District No. 165 (Zborov) there are over 100 people who are bed-ridden, invalids, and also some deceased, born in 1904.  They are again from little-known parties.  They refuse to take part in PEC which they never asked to be on and the authorities replace them with their own people.

The author writes that no means are barred in order to turn the PEC into malleable cogs in the machine.  While formally unlawful replacement of members of a PEC does not constitute grounds for declaring the vote invalid.  However black horses recruited without the proper training can infringe electoral legislation and place the vote in question.  Then those in power, depending on the result, will decide whether to get the vote declared invalid, with it being easy for them to secure the necessary court decision.

From the article here

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